Monday, October 31, 2011

munday funday -- 31 October, 2011

Just in case you missed this video when it went viral on Facebook last week, here's a cool link for you to enjoy while firing up your computer this morning. This video was shot by Jason Anderson at the Bay Area Super Prestige cyclocross race on October 23rd with a quad-copter GO-PRO video camera. Yup, a little radio-controlled helicopter with a video camera attached. Check out the video and you can see images of the quad-copter at the end. Pretty darn cool. Turn up the volume and watch it on the big screen for full effect.

doesn't this just make you want to race cyclocross?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Swept Away

I'm thrilled to again sponsor the annual Supermarket Street Sweep. Check out this year's poster! Then click over to the blog and see how you can get involved with this fun event that benefits the San Francisco Food Bank.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

unless you're riding in a bubble

YOU need this! You NEED this! You need THIS! what IS this? THIS is group riding skills and who better to teach you how to play nice with others than the expert coaches of Velo Girls Coaching Services!

Just this weekend at our Bike Skills 101 clinic, I was having a conversation with a number of participants about our upcoming co-ed Bike Skills 301 (pacelines + group riding) clinic. One of them stated that she would never ride in a paceline, even though she rides on her husband's wheel all the time. Another stated that he loves riding centuries and would love to ride them faster but doesn't like riding in close proximity to other riders. And yet another stated that he pacelines all the time but doesn't always trust the riders he rides with.

Bike Skills 301 (pacelines + group riding skills) is the PERFECT clinic for all three of these cyclists (and probably for you, too)! Why? Because whether or not you ever race your bike, you'll have the opportunity to ride with other riders at some point in your cycling career. Group riding is FUN! Group riding will help you ride longer and faster. And if you learn the skills, you'll be a safer rider and can share your knowledge with your friends and other folks with whom you ride.

First, we teach you the science behind pacelining -- draft theory. We teach you about energy savings and how to find the ideal position in relationship to other riders. We teach you how to find the wind (and how to protect yourself from it).

Then, we teach you how to be safe when pacelining -- communication skills, how to safely position yourself and how to modulate your speed without having a negative impact on other riders.

And then we take it all out on the road and work on group riding skills, starting with two-rider partner drills and progressing to various types of pacelines and echelons.

So, unless you're riding in a bubble, you'll have lots of opportunities to ride with other riders, which means lots of opportunities to ride faster, longer, and safer by utilizing group riding skills.

Our last co-ed Bike Skills 301 clinic of 2011 will be held on November 6th in Woodside. I would highly encourage you to come and add some skills to your cycling toolbox. Bring your teammates, friends, or significant other so you can learn together and reinforce your learning. Register by October 30th and save $20!

Click here for NOW: Bike Skills 301 Registration

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

cycling symphonic

Little-known fact: I was a pretty darn good musician in a former life. I attended Ithaca College on a full music scholarship. My major was the oboe, but I played all the woodwinds, French horn, mallets, keyboards, and sang. Music was my life -- my everything. I had planned to be a professional oboist with a symphony orchestra. It was a crazy-risky career choice for a girl from a poor, working-class family. But somehow, my parents were very supportive of this goal.

By an odd twist of fate, coupled with a healthy dose of performance anxiety and a case of cold feet, I changed my degree program a couple of times and graduated with a BFA in Theatre Management. That was career #1 for me and I managed professional theatres for the first 13 years of my career. That was also the career that brought me to California back in 1997.

Music is still a HUGE part of my life. I have more than 12,000 songs of all genres in my iTunes library and that doesn't include all the cassette tapes I've never converted or replaced. I listen to music from the moment I awake until the moment I go to sleep. I listen in my home, in my car, in my office, and while I'm sitting on my roof-top deck. It's the soundtrack of my life. But the one place I DON'T listen to music is while I'm riding my bicycle.

When I ride my bike, I want to connect fully with my environment. I want to see, hear, and smell the world around me. I want to unplug from the technology that pervades every waking moment of my life. I want to take myself off the grid, without distractions of phone, text, email, or facebook. I want to immerse myself into the sensory experience of riding my bicycle in the great big wide open world.

The debate of whether or not cyclists should listen to music while riding is in the same league as the Campy/Shimano debate, the Hatfields and the McCoys, or Democrat versus Republican. Cyclists get pretty emotional and passionate in their opinion about this. I'll just suffice to say that in California, the vehicle code (which also governs bicycles) states that you can wear one earbud when riding a bicycle.

When I listen to music, I listen with every part of my brain.....with every part of my being. It actually makes it challenging to focus on certain types of work (like reading and writing) so I have to be very careful how loudly I'm listening to my music and what types of music I listen to. I have a mix called "mindless music" that is comprised of jazz, classical, and other types of music that I won't find myself really listening to (or trying to sing along with). But even then, I realize that I'm easily distracted by the music in the background.

I was listening to a new download tonight -- Peter Gabriel's New Blood (Special Edition) which is superb and you should check it out. I allowed myself the luxury (and distraction) of playing it on my Apple TV through the sound bar on my television (which has phenomenal sound quality). I felt myself being transported into a place of familiarity (with lyrics I remember from 20 years ago) and emotion (with the orchestral + operatic qualities). It was an all-encompassing experience and I wasn't able to keep working.

And, in that moment, I realized that because I get so focused and involved with the music I listen to, it wouldn't be prudent of me to ride while I listen. I can lose myself in music. When I ride I need to focus 100% of my attention on my environment. I need to think about other road users, the terrain, and my own state of physical being. When listening to music, using every bit of gray matter I've got, there's nothing left to be alert and aware when I'm riding.

So yeah, I've always thought I just wanted to escape technology (and that's true), but the reality is that music is such a complete sensory experience for me that there would be nothing left to pedal my bicycle safely.

How about you? Do you listen to music while you ride?

ps -- this image has nothing to do with this blog post but I was searching for related images about music and cycling and the brain and happened upon this happy guy and wanted to share it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

if Mickey Mantle rode a bike

I went to see a movie this weekend -- Moneyball -- the story of Billy Beane, the Oakland A's, and sabermetrics. Yeah, a baseball movie. I'm not a big baseball fan and don't really know much about the sport or its history, but Moneyball received positive reviews from my friends and who doesn't want to stare at Brad Pitt for two hours?

The film opened with a quote by Mickey Mantle:

"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life."

Immediately, before even knowing the context of the quote in the sport of baseball, I felt the urge to share this quote with my cycling world. You see, that's how I feel about my job. I teach people how to ride a bicycle. But we all know how to ride a bicycle, right? In my opinion, no. Although most of us have ridden bikes since childhood, we don't really KNOW how to ride a bike. Of course, when I tell people that, especially cyclists who have been riding for a while, I run the risk of offending them. But by the end of a four-hour Bike Skills clinic or a two-hour one-on-one session, clients agree that they really didn't know what they thought they knew. And they agree that NOW they know how to ride a bicycle.

As children, we're very in touch with our environment and how we interact with it. We have a keen sense of proprioception. We listen to our body. When we hop on a bike, we intuitively know what to do. We don't try to fix, manage, or correct the natural physics and mechanics of the bike. We let the bike do what it was designed so well to do. We don't over-think it. We trust the technology and the science behind it. And riding a bike is easier because of this.

In the past 10 years, I've developed a career of teaching folks (mostly adults) how to ride a bike. More than 900 men + women participate in our various Bike Skills clinics each year. For some, this is their first experience riding in their entire lifetime. For others, they're returning to the bike as an adult after a hiatus. And for others, they've been riding for a long period of time but want to really learn and understand how to ride. Some folks want to learn specific skills (like descending or group riding or racing or mountain biking). Some folks find me because they've experienced fear or a serious crash or simply the frustration of not being "perfect" at this sport that was so easy for them as a child. Many feel they don't need the fundamentals. Of course, in my opinion, everyone needs the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the foundation of everything we do on the bike.

So, like Mickey Mantle and the sport of baseball, I try to enlighten cyclists about all the things they don't know that they don't know. We all know how to ride a bike. We've done it our entire lives. But it's pretty amazing how much we don't really know or understand about riding a bike.

Come, learn, understand, improve in our final clinics for the 2011 season:

Oct 22nd -- Bike Skills 101 -- Fundamental Bike Handling Skills sponsored by

Oct 22nd -- Bike Skills 201 -- Climbing + Descending sponsored by Teresa Callen of Image Arts Salon

Oh, and Mickey Mantle DID ride a bike. He's often discussed the importance of life-long fitness and an active lifestyle. Here's an image from a 1977 print ad by AMF.